World's most expensive book on display
Saturday 02 October 2010
Book lovers have a rare opportunity to see the world's most expensive book, James John Audubon's
Birds of America, valued at £4-6 million (4.9-7.3 million euros). Sotheby's is exhibiting the book this fall in Paris, New York, and London.
As part of a collection of rare books and manuscripts, the book will go on auction following its tour in London on December 7. By renowned ornithologist, naturalist, and painter Audubon (1785-1851), the book depicts his paintings of flamingoes, swans, and other American birds. Thought to be one of only 100 in existence, Birds of America is bound in large format - 90 centimeters by 60 centimeters - because the author wanted to present his subjects in their life-size.
Also on display is what is considered the most important book of the English language, a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, a volume of 36 of his plays originally published in 1623. The book is valued at £1-1.5 million (1.2-1.8 million euros).
The public viewing additionally includes a series of 40 Elizabethan letters regarding the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots, including four letters signed by Queen Elizabeth I herself. The letters, written to jailor Sir Ralph Sadler, describe detailed instructions as to how to handle the imprisoned Scottish queen, such as where guards should be stationed and when she should be allowed outside.
Another highlight of the collection is an illustrated copy of Plutarch's Lives of Romulus, estimated at £400,000-600,000 (486,000-728,000 euros). Many original drawings from Pierre-Joseph Redouté's Les Roses, estimated at £1.5 million (1.8 million euros), are also included. All of the works belonged to a British book collector, Lord Frederick Hesketh, who died 55 years ago, although his collection is only now being sold by the trustees of his will.
To see the collection, Sotheby's is offering the following public viewings:
. October 7-11 - Sotheby's Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 76 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré
. October 30-November 5 - Sotheby's New York, 1334 York Avenue at 72nd Street
. December 3-5 - Sotheby's London, 34-35 New Bond Street, W1A 2AA
For more information about the exhibition and upcoming auction, visit www.sothebys.com
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